Saturday, March 1, 2008

Butt Really, Darling....

Happy March, dear readers! After perusing past posts, and analyzing my fellow bloggers, the Baroness has realized that she may have been a little remiss in disclosure about who she is, and what it's all about, Alfie. Truth of the matter is that I'm much better in writing than conversing, and while I love, love, love to read blogs where they just lay it all out there, I cannot believe that someone would even be vaguely interested in my crap, and I'm a little skittish about being very forthcoming. But today, I am literally willing to spill my guts. Or part of them, anyways. To offer a glimpse into the world of the Baroness and the vonBloggenschtern villa, we're a winning combination of high-brow, with liberal dollops of low-brow thrown in. We are conversant in both French and fart jokes, and things gross and poopy are very familiar territory for us. We have seen the dark side, you see, and lived to tell the tale. The gaseous, bootylicious tale.

It's funny how in the world of internet chit-chat, a semi-colon and a bracket ;) infer some sort of sly inside joke or a secret. In another world that the Baroness travels in, the semi-colon refers to the secret club that tells of one's insides - that you've have part of your colon removed. In my case it was a mere 10 inches, due to colon cancer. March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, and the following is part of a presentation I gave last March - I thought I'd share it with you, in hopes that you might send it along to the ones you love. For those of you here for "How About That?", do not despair; it will return tomorrow. For those of you ready for a stonkin' good crapload of valuable information, read on, McButt.

I would like to start with a little game. Here goes. Name this planet:

If you guessed Uranus, you're correct! Treat yourself to a high-fibre cereal and some fruit!

So today's topic is Uranus. Well, Uranus, my anus, everyone's anus.

You may or may not know this, but March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month. You also may or may not know that in August of 2006, I was diaganosed with Stage II colon cancer, and have had radiation, surgery, and chemotherapy to treat it. I'm hoping that by the end of this chat, you will be just a little more aware, and hopefully feel compelled to make an appointment to get screened. Oh, and that you'll tell 2 friends. And they'll tell 2 friends. And so on. And so on.

And so on.

Colon Cancer has the second highest fatality rate behind lung cancer, although it's also one of the most curable cancers with early detection. It's an equal opportunity disease - the rates of occurrence are nearly the same for men and women. There's a myth that colon cancer only affects older people. The fact is, while the median age is 62, risks start rising at 40 years of age. And there is an increasing number of cases of people under 50 with no known risk factors (I was 45 when diagnosed). Another myth is that colon cancer occurs only in people with a family history. The truth is that approximately 75% of all new cases occur in people with no known risk factors for the disease.

It's sometimes referred to as a "silent" cancer, as the symptoms may not appear until the cancer has progressed significantly. If they do appear, indicators such as fatigue, abdominal pain, bloating or changes in bowel movements can mistakenly be attributed to other conditions such as ulcers, gallstones, hemorrhoids or reactions to certain foods. In doing so, early detection can be missed. This leads to a strong argument for getting screened as soon as possible. While most doctors won't suggest screening before the age of 50, if any of the above symptoms seem significant to you, you should insist on a colonoscopy immediately. You know your body better than anyone else.

Another factor that makes people hesitant to take the first step is the stigma surrounding the screening process. Even though I knew something wasn't quite right "back there" (or in Scarlett language, the Sea Captain had a nosebleed), I felt incredibly embarrassed about having to bring up the subject to my GP. But I knew it had to be done. Something just wasn't right, and I finally conceded that it wasn't going away on its own.

After the barrage of tests I've been through, I can assure you that a colonoscopy itself is not so bad (given the alternatives). Everyone involved is a complete professional, although why they chose this particular profession will always remain a mystery to me. I liken the colonoscopy staff to spelunkers - they're really not too interested in how the cave looks from the outside; they're far more interested in what's actually inside the cave.

Humour, they say, is the best medicine. I can personally assure you that without it, you are sunk. So here are a few ice-breakers that could ease your tension, and - dare I say it? - tight-assedness:

Ice-Breaker #1: "Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?"

Ice-Breaker #2: "You know, in Arkansas, we're now legally married."

Ice-Breaker #3: "Hey, now I know how a Muppet feels!"

Ice-Breaker #4: "Doctor, let me know if you find my dignity"

All kidding aside, I urge each and every one of you to make an appointment for a baseline colonoscopy. You may feel great discomfort at taking this step, but knowledge is power, dear readers, and this only takes one day of your life. Listed below are resources that I found to be extremely helpful.

Thank you so much for your time, and as we semi-colons say(keeping with the solar system theme): Prevent Colon Cancer - Moon a doctor!

Affectionately Yours,
The Baroness ;)

Web Resources

American Cancer Society www.cancer.org

National Cancer Institute www.cancer.gov

Canadian Cancer Society www.cancer.ca

Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada: www.colorectal-cancer.ca

Colorectal Cancer Alliance: www.ccalliance.org

Books

Pezim, Michael E. and Owen, David, The Intelligent Patient Guide to Colorectal Cancer, Intelligent Patient Guide Publishing, 2005 (ISBN 0-9696125-7-5)

Pochapin, Mark Bennett, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Colorectal Cancer, Warner Books, 2004 (ISBN 0-446-69412-6)








6 comments:

Patty Cakes said...

As the baroness is my BFF she made me promise to have a colonoscopy. Being a woman of her word I promised and then put my butt where my word was. Dear readers it isn't bad at all. The prep is the toughest part and if you start early in the day, lets say around 3 pm in the afternoon it won't keep you up all night. They do give you a little medical cocktail to help you relax and enjoy the expierence. "better living through cemistry". So do it for those who love you as I did for the Baroness and all those who love me.

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

You are my friend.

To the end.

Lisa said...

Dear Baronness, how is it possible that you made me laugh while reading about colon cancer .. such a very unfunny topic?!?!! I think the name of said planet always cracks me up. A very mature soul, I am. In fact, I'm so mature I will be sure to heed your advice and have myself examined.

Sending up wishes to the Gods of Uranus that the Baronness continues to be a healthy inspiration to us all! ... Babs Peapod

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Countess Babs: Disease aside, colon cancer is a treasure trove of humour for we of the low-brow, easily amused, dark comedy set! And really - if I didn't laugh about the absurdity of it all, I would surely have crumbled into a gajillion little pieces. I am thrilled to hear that you will get examined - if I can compel even one person to steer clear of this nastiness, I have succeeded.
You go, girl!! (and trust me, if and when you have the scope, the prep will greatly assist you in doing just that. Although it's nice to feel kind of hollow every once in a while...)

Good health be unto you and yours,
B von B, the ;

Step Right Up said...

I'm a few days late to this post but wanted to tell you what a great way to share your message. My fiance' has Crohn's and has a colonoscopy every year. His Sea Captain often acts up. I had an aunt who passed away in her 40's from colon cancer and another aunt who beat it.

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Countess SRU: While I'm usually embarrassed about shameless self-promotion, this post is one that I don't mind flinging here, there and everywhere. At least for this month.

I urge everyone to do the same; knowledge is power.

 
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